Friday, June 27, 2014

Green Kid Crafts Discovery Box #4: Dinosaurs

*Not Recommended

I signed up for a three month subscription for Green Kid Crafts when they were recently on Living Social and I have pretty mixed feeling about it.  At the time of sign up, I thought it would be nice to have some quick pre-made crafts show up during the summer months.  The company states on their website that subscribers can expect:
  • 3-4 award winning Creativity and STEM Science Kits (science, technology, engineering, and math) designed by experts to build confidence, flex creativity, and make kids smarter. Look Inside a box to learn more.
  • All materials and instructions, along with some fun extras!
  • An exciting new theme, think Outer Space, Kitchen Science, Nocturnal Animals, Backyard Science, Ocean, and Mad Scientist.
  • Included free for subscribers: Exclusive online collection of additional activities, reading lists, games, puzzles, and more each month, all centered about the monthly theme!
It's also supposed to use natural and sustainable materials for the crafting supplies.  We got our first box and it is not the regular current box.  Other subscribers received the June Interesting Insects Discovery Box.

I did eventually find at the very end of their FAQ, that "Fan Favorites" or previously released boxes are sent with deal vouchers. I've heard that some companies send older or leftover boxes to customers when they sign up through flash sites so it wasn't a total surprise, although I did wish they had clearly disclosed this possibility on their deal listing.  I had to hunt on their website for this information, after being surprised by an older box, and I just don't think it's the way to make the best first impression on new customers.

Since I had seen pictures of Discovery Box #4: Dinosaurs before, it looked familiar.  I decided I wasn't going to let myself get upset about getting an older kit because their past boxes looked cool enough to get me to sign up in the first place.  Also, since only new customers could use the Living Social voucher it's not like we had tried any of their previous boxes anyway.  Looking on the bright side, my nearly 3 year old loves dinosaurs so the theme was spot on.  A little snack was also included and my daughter did enjoy them quite a bit.

Included in our box along with the three individually wrapped crafts was an information card.  It lists an Activity Guide but it was not physically included.  You have to get your "free" copy by following a link listed on the back.  I am not sure how they decided upon the stated $5.95 value, but I consider it an extra cost for me since I have to use my own paper and ink to print it.  Perhaps this how they help make their box "green".    I'm thinking that this is the "Exclusive online collection of additional activities" mentioned in their description.


Dinosaur Tail

I thought this was a pretty neat idea, kids love play acting but I had some issues with the project right away.  First of all the shapes are loose, mostly white, FOAM hearts.  So while under their FAQ about materials they say they always avoid craft foams, this must be one of the cases in which they do not.

While my son probably doesn't care that the variety of colors is lacking, I thought it definitely looked like leftover supplies were used and really so many white ones?  The sample craft looks much cuter and I'm wondering if the original kid included sticky felt shapes.  Plus I'd have thought the orange foam would be pre-cut and ready to go.

Dino Fossil and Sculpture

I'm not sure if this is supposed to count as one or two crafts since enough paper pulp clay is included to do both a fossil and sculpture.  Right away do you notice something missing?  Yep, no noodles.

This pretty much makes the box a fail for me, since the whole reason I liked the concept of a kid's craft subscription was because everything is supposed to be included.  I could contact customer service but having to do so for the very first box?  Not impressive since it's not like I'm going to ask them to actually send me a handful of pasta when I can just go get it out of our pantry.

At least this project, and the one above, both came with nicely printed directions.  These cards are double sided on thick glossy card with instructions on one side and more dino fun crafting ideas or facts about dinosaurs on the back.

Prehistoric Pet

So far two out of three of the projects have had issues.  Will number three be without? Sadly no.  The instruction sheet is printed out on what looks to be computer paper and cut down to size.  There is no additional information or activities on the back because this is blank.

Now this looked like the most little kid friendly project.  You simply use the cork to stamp onto the wooden dino.  I'll admit it's a cute idea.  However, you cannot recreate the sample project because that one has more colors, as a mini four colored stamp pad is shown in the materials on the individual kit listing.  It's a small point but still, that and the cheaply printed on direction sheet would seem to mark this as a box they decided to finish off with whatever was on hand and then still forgot the pasta!

Good Value versus Cost?

I paid $37 for 3 months with an extra $13.50 for shipping for a total of $50.50 or $16.84 a month.  Since we got three kits in Discover Box #4 that breaks down to $5.61 per craft and upon reflection on what you get along with the price of convenience, I think it's high.  Maybe it's because I am a crafty person myself and regularly haunt the craft store, but I don't think it's a good value and that's even if everything had been a depicted.  Plus, I don't really know how "green" the crafts were.  You basically have to take their word that the supplies are.  It's hard to verify and since their company has "Green" in the name I wish this had been more apparent.

I also think it would be much better for Green Kid Crafts to have sent a completely different kit than one which differs from the originally depicted.  This looks sloppy, maybe they are hoping their customers won't notice the differences?  There was no mention on any of the paperwork that contents may vary and just that one little inclusion would've made a big difference in my overall satisfaction.

If purchased separately this particular box costs $24.95 and in my opinion that is very overpriced.  I did note that in the description it once again lists a Discover More Booklet being included and not in a way that implies you must print it yourself.

Purchasing through Living Social

I noticed that customers with a Living Social voucher had to pay shipping for their "subscription", even though they highlight free shipping on their subscription page.  Yes, I realize I got a "deal" but Green Kid Crafts actually ran their own 40% sale for Father's Day.  Let's look at that deal scenario for a similar 3 month term.

A three month subscription is regularly $19.95 a month for a total of $59.85, remember that this way you get free shipping so there is no additional cost.  Now if you were able to take advantage of their 40% sale you could purchase a 3 month subscription for $35.91, a savings of $29.94, or $11.97 a month and that is a fair price.

Now if customers signing up this way can get the current new monthly boxes, I wish Green Kid Crafts would not have opted to send older ones to those who began using their service through Living Social.  I mean really, did you want to turn me into a regular subscriber or not.  It appears, not.

Bottom Line

I will continue receiving Green Kid Crafts Discovery Boxes for the next two months because I have already prepaid for them, but no longer, and I would not recommend it.  The fact that I got older boxes and the price per box is not being counted against them, they have fulfilled the requirements I signed up under.  I'm not happy about it but those issues are because I did not do enough research, although I will reiterate I think that "Fan Favorites" are sent should have been clearly marked on the Living Social Page.  This would have been more transparent on their part and I think a better business practice.

I will not be continuing with the service because for me, it's not a good value per project and because pieces were either missing or different, and because the packaging changed in quality throughout the same box.  If you've tried Green Kid Crafts, please share your experience.  I'd love to know what you thought of it.


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